Kenny rules himself out of top EU job despite being 'flattered'
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny says he would be "flattered" to be asked to take up a top EU job but is ruling himself out of becoming head of the European Commission or European Council in 2014.
The Taoiseach says his intention is to lead Fine Gael into the next general election.
Mr Kenny has not put his name forward to his party's EU grouping to become its leader in next year's European elections.
The Taoiseach met with fellow leaders in the European People's Party (EPP), including German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Brussels.
The EPP has to put somebody forward as its figurehead in the European elections, who will then go on to be the frontrunner for a leading post.
The party is likely to get one of the two posts when they are up for grabs next year.
Mr Kenny is being linked with the powerful positions in Europe next year and Chancellor Merkel is believed to have him on her shortlist for a job.
He said no names emerged from the talks but EPP chairman Joseph Daul was contacted by a number of people. "He wasn't contacted by me," Mr Kenny added.
He said he would lead his party into the next general election.
"In respect of the mandate given to me, I am honoured to be elected Taoiseach to have the largest majority of any government in the history of the State, but also with an unprecedented economic challenge facing us. And it is my intention to deal with that and to lead Fine Gael into the next general election," he said.
"I'd be flattered to be talked of in those terms but my job is here," he added.
EU diplomats based in Dublin have been asking officials in Government Buildings if Mr Kenny was interested in taking a top post in Brussels next year.
The success of Ireland's EU presidency has put Mr Kenny at the centre of early speculation about the appointments of the head of the European Commission or European Council.
Last month, leading French daily newspaper 'Le Monde' said Mr Kenny was one of two European leaders "discreetly positioned'' in the race to be next European Commission president.
Over recent months, when ambassadors from EU countries are attending meetings, they have asked bemused civil servants if Mr Kenny intends to put himself forward.
The Taoiseach and his leadership style are well-known to many EU leaders as he has been attending EPP meetings for over a decade.
He ticks a lot of boxes as someone who comes from a small country and has an understanding of countries in economic difficulties.
Mr Kenny is likely to come under increased scrutiny over the coming months, particularly when the EPP congress, which will be attended by Chancellor Merkel, is held in the National Convention Centre in Dublin in February, ahead of the European elections.